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What trees gives us

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The saying "It doesn't grow on trees" was used to mean that whatever 'it' was, it was not to be acquired easily or cheaply, like picking fruit off an apple tree. It is true that some trees are grown for their fruit, but trees are the useful, as well as the beautiful things they are because they are themselves made of wood.

The process, which we take for granted, by which they absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and using the energy supplied by sunlight, build up the cells which make up the living tree is a miracle in itself. We have found a way of converting the sun's rays into electrical energy by means of solar panels, but we haven't even begun to produce a material as versatile, strong and enjoyable to work with as wood. The advantage of wood over plastics is that it is part of a naturally recurring cycle of renewal whereas once the plastic has served its purpose, we don't know what to do with it, and throw it away or bury it.

At one time, Britain was covered with forest, but just because wood was so useful as fuel, building material and making things from tools to ships, the land was cleared until the forests had almost disappeared. We now recognise the need to protect our forests, not only in Britain, but wherever they are threatened by illegal logging. This does not mean the end of the timber industry, but that we need more careful management from planting to harvesting. This is a very long term process, as the natural life-span of some species is far longer than any other living thing. The tall trees standing in the churchyard of St Lawrence are still in their childhood compared with the giant redwoods of Oregon and California.

With trees, nothing is wasted. The fruit can be eaten, the seed planted, the leaves enrich the soil, the wood made into useful and beautiful objects and the left-overs burnt as fuel. Incidentally I have about 30 boxes of offcuts for disposal. Each box weighs from 8-9kgs and costs £2, the proceeds to go to Brendoncare or any other charity of the purchaser's choice.

Bob Weighton (01420 593757)

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